Besides the Story mode, Persona 4: Arena offers a Lesson mode to learn the controls; Arcade mode, Score Attack mode; Training and Theater modes, where you can record and watch videos; Challenge mode with online leaderboards; Versus mode for local multiplayer and finally; Network mode, where you can compete online. Those looking for the more authentic experience will be happy to know, Atlus has also included the original Japanese audio.
Realizing, that Persona 4: Arena is targeted at multiple audiences, Arc did a superb job of making it possible for the RPG series’ fans to be able to play the game while at the same time offering a deep fighting experience for those looking for one. Besides dropping the difficulty level in the settings, mashing the square button repeatedly will let fighting game novices be able to pull off some pretty lethal combos. For all of those looking for a deeper fighting experience, it is there. The characters, though having fairly different skill sets, can all jump, double jump, and dash in both directions while in the air and standing. They can also block while in the air, standing, or crouched.
The idea behind the Persona games is that each of the characters has a demon or Persona. This translates into the fighting as each character fights with their Persona against the opponent and the opponent's Persona. Where the X and square buttons are your characters main attack buttons, the triangle and circle control your Persona. It is important to use your Persona judiciously though, as it can get broken, severely limiting your combat effectiveness for awhile. Besides yours and your Persona’s hit points, an SP and burst gauge are also displayed onscreen. At full SP, the person winning the match can execute an instant kill.
On the PlayStation 3, there are no significant online issues, though how long there will be enough people online to find random matches remains to be seen. As kind of a throwback genre anyway, it’s always more fun to be able to see the face of the foe you just bested. It is also worth noting that the soundtrack for Persona 4: Arena is filled with some really great songs. Many of those that preordered the game really scored with the bonus disc. Honestly, this is probably the most complete package of all of Arc Software’s offerings and only the creator of the highly stylized Guilty Gear could have pulled this off as artfully.